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Idaho extends financial adviser contract on land dealings

This office building on Washington Street in downtown Boise is one of several commercial properties that the Idaho Land Board hopes to sell this year. Photo courtesy of the Idaho Department of Lands.

The Land Board sold this  office building on Washington Street in downtown Boise for $1.6 million in December.  Photo courtesy of the Idaho Department of Lands.

Idaho officials are extending the contract of a financial adviser assisting with reinvesting millions from the sale of commercial and residential real estate.

The Idaho Land Board retained Callan LLC through June 2019 for $150,000 annually.

“They’ve got a lot of institutional knowledge on what we’re doing and so to change contractors now I think would be a mistake,” said Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Callan was retained in 2014 when the board began considering selling the state’s residential real estate and politically contentious commercial real estate with an expected one-time windfall of $160 million.

The state signed a more extensive contract with Callan in 2015, and the company now provides general consultant services to the Land Board that manages 2.44 million acres of state endowment land.

In 2017, state officials asked Callan to analyze asset allocation for eight of the endowment beneficiaries, focusing on the seven smallest. That agreement ends this month, but Callan needs additional time to complete the study.

“We’re in the midst of a study that we put a lot of money into,” said Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. “We’re far better off at this point having some outside objective professional advice.”

Idaho has been selling hundreds of residential home sites as it gets out of the business of leasing that land. The move began amid concerns the state wasn’t getting fair-market value for the leases.

The Land Board has sold most of the commercial real estate it managed after complaints that state-owned businesses unfairly compete with private businesses. The sales met the Land Board’s constitutional mandate to manage state land for the maximum financial return.

Idaho is expected to wind up with about $160 million when sales are finished in 2020. Callan is recommending the money be spent to buy timberland and farmland.

Idaho received 3.65 million acres of endowment land at statehood in 1890. Over the years, it has sold about 33 percent.

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